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Andrey Kortunov

Ph.D. in History, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, RIAC member

Column: Day Figure

Is the world becoming more merciful? Yes, but not too fast.

In 2017, at least 993 people were executed in 23 countries, which is 4% less than in 2016 (1,032 executions) and 39% less than in this century’s record 2015 (1,634 executions). The number of death sentences has decreased considerably (2,591 against 3,115 last year). These statistics fail to include death penalties in China and other countries, where they are under state secret. Last year, capital punishment was abolished in Mongolia and Guinea, with the total number of countries who abolished the death penalty reaching 106. In fact, 142 countries do not use it in practice. Belarus is the only remaining country to use death penalty in Europe and Central Asia. Last year, two people were executed there (compared to 4 in 2016) and four death sentences were imposed. In the West, death penalty is used only in the US and Japan. The US ranks seventh in the world by the number of the death sentences that were carried out (apart from the countries with no reliable statistics).

Is the world becoming more merciful? Yes, but not too fast.

In 2017, at least 993 people were executed in 23 countries, which is 4% less than in 2016 (1,032 executions) and 39% less than in this century’s record 2015 (1,634 executions). The number of death sentences has decreased considerably (2,591 against 3,115 last year). These statistics fail to include death penalties in China and other countries, where they are under state secret. Last year, capital punishment was abolished in Mongolia and Guinea, with the total number of countries who abolished the death penalty reaching 106. In fact, 142 countries do not use it in practice. Belarus is the only remaining country to use death penalty in Europe and Central Asia. Last year, two people were executed there (compared to 4 in 2016) and four death sentences were imposed. In the West, death penalty is used only in the US and Japan. The US ranks seventh in the world by the number of the death sentences that were carried out (apart from the countries with no reliable statistics).

In 2017, the number of executions for the crimes connected to drugs grew in many countries of the world and included such methods as hanging (Singapore) and beheading (Saudi Arabia).

The total statistics on death penalties are as follows: Afghanistan (5), Bangladesh (6), Belarus (2), Bahrain (3), Vietnam (+), Egypt (35+), Jordan (15), Iraq (125+), Iran (507+), Yemen (2+), China (+), Kuwait (7), Malaysia (4+), UAE (1), Pakistan (60+), Palestine (6 – the Hamas administration in Gaza), Saudi Arabia (146), North Korea (+), Singapore (8), Somalia (24), Puntland (12), the USA (23), South Sudan (4), Japan (4). At least 21,919 people in the world are waiting to be executed.

Post-Soviet Russia has seen a gradual decrease in the use of this punishment: 159 people were sentenced in 1992 (18 were executed), in 1993 – 157 people (10 executed), in 1994 – 160 (10), in 1995 – 141 (40), in 1996 – 153 (there are no official facts about the executed). Since 1997, the death penalty has not practiced in Russia.

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Data

Amnesty International

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